*Bipartisan Campus Accountability and Safety Act Would Require Schools to Survey Their Students, Train Campus Administrators, and Make Campuses Safer*
Washington, DC – U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) joined Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) in a bipartisan coalition of Senators to reintroduce the Campus Accountability and Safety Act, legislation to combat sexual assault on college and university campuses by protecting students and by strengthening accountability and transparency for colleges and universities. Shaheen, Hassan, Gillibrand and Grassley are reintroducing this legislation with Senators Joni Ernst (R-IA), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Jack Reed (D-RI), and Mark Warner (D-VA).
The Campus Accountability and Safety Act would reform the way colleges and universities address and report incidents of sexual assault that take place on their campuses, and it would help protect both survivors and accused students by ensuring that schools have a uniform and fair process for investigating and conducting campus disciplinary proceedings. This legislation would incentivize colleges to protect students and professionalize their responses to sexual assault. It would create new resources and support services for survivors and set new notification requirements for both survivors and accused students involved in the campus disciplinary process.
“Sexual assault is one of the most under-reported crimes in the nation, so it’s imperative that we reform our laws to better respond to survivors as they come forward and seek justice,” said Senator Shaheen. “This bipartisan bill makes necessary, common-sense reforms that improve transparency and accountability on college campuses so we can ensure that students are supported and institutions are accountable for how they process sexual assault cases. Keeping students and college communities safe and empowering survivors with the tools they need must always remain a top priority as we work to prevent and combat sexual violence.”
“For our students to succeed, they must be safe on college and university campuses,” said Senator Hassan. “By ensuring that resources are in place for sexual assault survivors and encouraging higher education institutions to improve their responses to the reporting of sexual assault, this bipartisan legislation is critical to changing the culture around sexual assault on campuses and keeping our young people safe.”
Specifically, this legislation would do the following:
In January 2019, Senators Shaheen and Hassan joined 35 Senate Democrats in a letter calling for Secretary DeVos to rescind a proposed Title IX rule that would weaken existing guidance and regulations for sexual harassment and assault. As the lead Democrat of the Senate Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee, Senator Shaheen has repeatedly negotiated record-level federal funding to support grants provided through the Office on Violence Against Women (OVW). In the fiscal year (FY) 2019 funding legislation, Shaheen procured $497.5 million for the OVW. Shaheen also successfully added $120 million to the Debbie Smith DNA Backlog Reduction program in FY 2018 government funding legislation.
Senator Shaheen’s bill, the Sexual Assault Survivors’ Rights Act – also known as the Survivors’ Bill of Rights Act —was signed into law in 2016 and created the first federal codified rights specifically for sexual assault survivors, and provides survivors the opportunity to enforce those rights in federal court. A primary objective of Shaheen’s legislation was to set a standard for states to replicate at the local level, which was done in New Hampshire by Senator Donna Soucy (D-Manchester) when her legislation was signed into law last year. Shaheen also previously introduced legislation to establish housing protections for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, and to set a nationwide standard that survivors cannot be evicted or otherwise denied access to housing for being victims of those crimes. She also led legislation that would make it easier for victims to bring forward certain cases of sexual harassment in rental housing under the Fair Housing Act.